Authentic encouragement is an important part of a successful youth ministry. Here are some tips that I have used to effectively encourage students.
1) BE SPECIFIC
Don’t just tell a student that they rock. Tell them why they rock. The more specific you are the more encouraging it is to the student.
2) DONT BE or SOUND CONDESCENDING
It’s very easy to sound condescending when you are trying to be encouraging. Make sure that you are not talking down to them, and be aware of your tone. When in doubt practice the statement with yourself or another adult leader to test if it is condescending. I know that may seem weird, but it is better than inadvertently being condescending to a student when you are just trying to encourage them.
3) MEAN WHAT YOU SAY
Students can tell when you aren’t being sincere. Don’t try to fake it, mean what you say!
4) WATCH FOR THE MIDDLE STUDENTS
Middle Students are the students who are not the rough students, but also aren’t the really outgoing talented ones. These students are the most neglected, and need the most encouragement.
5) KEEP THE ATTENTION ON THEM
This is not the time to talk about yourself, or sneakily brag about yourself. This is all about them and for them.
6) ASSUME THEY ARE NOT GETTING ENCOURAGEMENT ANYWHERE ELSE
You may be the only person that ever encourages them. So go in with that mindset with every student, because it may be true.
7) ENCOURAGE OFTEN
Make encouraging a common practice in your life. You may not be a natural encourager, but the more you do it the easier it gets.
A few weeks back I was talking to a group of students from our youth group and somehow we got on the topic of blogs. During the conversation one student interjected rather abruptly, “Blogs are for old people.”
Because I am weird, that got me to really think about writing a blog; not because I think that I am old, because who ever really does. The real reason I have been wanting to write a blog of my own is because of how much I get out of other youth ministry blogs. I have been inspired, informed, and equipped through many different blogs on youth ministry. So I thought that I should start contributing to the youth ministry conversation.
At the time I am writing this I have been in youth ministry for just over 10 years. I have been at my current church (Shippensburg Nazarene) for just over 5 of those years. I have realized that I need to share what I have done, what I am struggling with, and what others are doing.
I am by no means an “expert” and I don’t have everything figured out. This blog is just me contributing to the conversation.
I chose the web address youthministrycafe.com because some of the best conversations I have had have been in a coffee shop, diner, or other types of “cafes”.
Well here it is, my first post on youthministrycafe.com! Please hold your applause.